It takes courage to speak your mind these days. The Internet mobs with their cyber-torches and virtual pitchforks are ever-present and always on the lookout for something to be outraged about. Careers are destroyed over differences of opinion, lives are ruined over casual conversations—or even worse, twisted accounts and distortions of actual speech. It seems less a new McCarthyism led by politicians in Washington, D.C., but something more akin to what Thomas Jefferson called the “reign of witches” during the political turmoil and rancor between the Federalists and Democrat-Republicans toward the end of the 18th century.
These attacks lead people to generally want to keep their heads down to avoid trouble. That’s why (or at least one reason why) author Brad Thor is so remarkable. In a day and age that rewards risk aversion, Thor is proudly outspoken about his NRA Life membership, his gun ownership and his carrying a firearm for self-defense. Thor doesn’t need to do this to sell his thrillers: His books—including his most recent novel, Code of Conduct, which was just released July 7—regularly reside on The New York Times best-seller lists. He could keep his head down, his mouth shut and not worry about how his support for the Second Amendment might impact his ability to turn his novels into Hollywood productions, for instance. Yet Thor speaks his mind.
I recently had an opportunity to spend an hour with Thor in studio as part of the “NRA News Cam & Co.” show, and I was struck by his confidence and willingness to talk about the things that are important to him—like his ability to protect himself and his family. It reminded me of a line from Charlton Heston’s 1999 speech “Winning the Cultural War” on how exactly we accomplish that task.
“When told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don’t. We disobey the social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.”
As it turns out, Thor isn’t just a great storyteller who spins those kinds of gripping tales that have you promising yourself “just one more chapter” until you realize it’s 3 a.m. and you really have to go to bed. He’s a rebel with a cause. In fact, he’s a rebel with the most important cause of all—individual liberty.